Between the release (FINALLY!) of the brand new James Bond flick "No Time To Die" (the 25th in the series ... and the last featuring Daniel Craig as Bond) and a new, comprehensive Bond soundtrack collection, "The Best Of Bond ... James Bond," frequent Forgotten Hits Contributor Harvey Kubernik sent us this piece celebrating BOTH new releases.
The character James Bond (played by a variety of different actors over the years, most notably, Craig, Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan, George Lazenby and Timothy Dalton) has been entertaining movie-goers since 1962's debut, "Dr. No." (Ian Flemming's books even longer than that ... the first was published in 1953!)
The Best Of Bond … James Bond
By Harvey Kubernik Copyright 2021
After numerous Covid-related delays, the 25th James Bond film, No Time To Die, from EON Productions and Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios (MGM) was released globally on September 30, 2021, in the UK through Universal Pictures International and in the US on October 8, 2021, from MGM via its United Artists releasing banner.
The Best of Bond … James Bond will be available as a digital download and a 2CD set on October 8th as well, along with a 3-LP black vinyl, plus a limited-edition gold vinyl will be available exclusively via uDiscover Music and Sound of Vinyl.
Each compilation features celebrated theme songs from the longest-running film franchise and includes “No Time To Die” by Billie Eilish from No Time To Die, the 25th film in the series. Also now included will be Adele’s “Skyfall” from Skyfall, the highest-grossing Bond film to date, and Sam Smith’s Spectre theme, “Writing’s On the Wall,” – Oscar® winners for Best Song in 2013 and 2016, respectively.
In addition to Billie Eilish, Adele and Sam Smith, included is the signature instrumental “James Bond Theme” by The John Barry Orchestra, which remains one of the most recognizable themes from film. The collection also includes Dame Shirley Bassey (“Goldfinger,” “Diamonds Are Forever” and “Moonraker.”) With “Goldfinger,” Bassey achieved her first Top 10 hit, reaching No. 8 on The Billboard Hot 100 and No. 2 on the Adult Contemporary charts.
Bassey made her Oscars® debut at the 85th Academy Awards®, where she performed a spectacular rendition of “Goldfinger” as part of the telecast’s James Bond 50th Anniversary tribute, which was celebrated by UMe with vinyl reissues of long-out-of-print soundtracks to Dr. No, Goldfinger and Live And Let Die.
Along with Louis Armstrong (“We Have All The Time In The World”), Nancy Sinatra (“You Only Live Twice”), Lulu (“The Man With The Golden Gun”), The Best Of Bond … James Bond also includes Paul McCartney & Wings (“Live And Let Die.”) Written by Paul and Linda McCartney, performed by Paul McCartney & Wings and produced by former Beatles producer George Martin, the title theme song hit No. 2 on the chart, and it was nominated for both a GRAMMY® Award, for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) / Best Background Arrangement, and an Academy Award®, for Best Original Song. The single “Live And Let Die” became the first Bond theme song to win a GRAMMY® award (Best Pop Vocal Performance, 1973), and the song continues to be a highlight in McCartney’s live performances.
The Best Of Bond … James Bond also features Carly Simon (“Nobody Does It Better”), Tina Turner (“GoldenEye”), Duran Duran (“A View To A Kill”), Sheryl Crow (“Tomorrow Never Dies”), Madonna (“Die Another Day”) and Garbage (“The World Is Not Enough.”) With the release of “Skyfall,” Rolling Stone compiled its Top 10 James Bond Theme Songs, all 10 of which, of course, appear on this set, including Tom Jones (“Thunderball”) and Matt Monro (“From Russia With Love.”)
All formats of The Best Of Bond…James Bond are available here: https://lnk.to/TheBestOfBondPR
Various Artists THE BEST OF BOND … JAMES BOND
1. James Bond Theme – The John Barry Orchestra
2. From Russia With Love – Matt Monro
3. Goldfinger – Shirley Bassey
4. Thunderball – Tom Jones
5. You Only Live Twice – Nancy Sinatra
6. On Her Majesty's Secret Service – The John Barry Orchestra
7. We Have All The Time In The World – Louis Armstrong
8. Diamonds Are Forever – Shirley Bassey
9. Live And Let Die – Paul McCartney & Wings
10. The Man With The Golden Gun – Lulu
11. Nobody Does It Better – Carly Simon
12. Moonraker – Shirley Bassey
13. For Your Eyes Only – Sheena Easton
14. All Time High – Rita Coolidge
1. A View To A Kill – Duran Duran
2. The Living Daylights – A-Ha
3. License To Kill – Gladys Knight
4. GoldenEye – Tina Turner
5. Tomorrow Never Dies – Sheryl Crow
6. The World Is Not Enough – Garbage
7. Die Another Day – Madonna
8. You Know My Name – Chris Cornell
9. Another Way To Die – Jack White & Alicia Keys
10. Skyfall – Adele
11. Writing's On The Wall – Sam Smith
12. No Time To Die – Billie Eilish
"The advent of the James Bond themes,” underscores author, deejay, university lecturer and the Rolling Stones record producer / manager 1963-1967, Andrew Loog Oldham, “was a big branding move forward, not only for the 007 franchise.
“Talents like arranger John Barry, songwriters Monty Norman and Don Black stepped out from late 50's TV pop shows, naff but successful movie themes and musicals into a hitherto inconceivable realm, suddenly we were world music and we all subliminally noted that fact. In so many ways just as Quant; Vidal Sassoon; Bailey, Donovan and Duffy preceded the Beatles as a pop brand in America and the world , so did the James Bond bag."
“It’s ironic that in the early 60s the Beatles couldn’t secure a record deal because label executives gave the lame excuse that “guitar groups were passé,” while one of them most recognizable guitar themes dominated the silver screens world-wide,” reinforced Jan Alan Henderson, author of Whispers from the Canyons of Mountain Laurel.
"The James Bond Theme," written by Monty Norman, opened the first Bond film, Dr. No, starring Sean Connery, released in 1962. The memorable guitar was played by Vic Flick, who was the resident six-string maestro with the John Barry Seven. From Russia With Love followed, with the title track written by Lionel Bart. Two more Bond classics followed, Goldfinger and Thunderball. By that time, Bond was a cultural icon. The proof of that was the influence on the Beatles’ second film, HELP!”
"It's far too easy to forget the upper reaches of any Billboard Top LP's chart throughout the sixties was always chockfull of various soundtrack and show-tune long-players," recalls double-O'd soul Gary Pig Gold.
"Along with, of course, a Herb Alpert 12-incher or two to help hold the fort against each and every upstart young British Invader.
"But to my ears at least, said Anglo-pop stage had already been steadily set many a month before 'I Want To Hold Your Hand' or even 'Love Me Do' via John Barry and his iconic, instantly recognizable all these years later, fully shaken 'n' stirred Bond scores.
“From Dr. No practically clear through The Living Daylights, his brazen big-brass cut-to sultry string arrangements provided the ideal accompaniment to Connery (or whomsoever)'s multitude of vivid widescreen capers. Including those of the between-skirmish horizontal nature, you know what I mean.
“Yes, 'Bond - James Bond' was that rare character whose appeal stretched completely from the seductive one moment clear to swashbuckling the next, with only a fully loaded composer of Barry's calibre worthy of keeping pace upon the sound track.
“True, as indelible as their opening themes were, and are, each film's remaining 90-minutes-or-so continue to reveal magical, if often sometimes cleverly subtle musical moments, each perfectly complimentary to what our eye is simultaneously beholding.
"And, should you for a moment doubt the impact said scores immediately had on, to begin with, the British film industry, check out the George Martin Orchestra's Academy Award-nominated Hard Day's Night work for starters: Recognize Martin's six-string-driven melodies to each Lennon-McCartney adaptation throughout? A tip of the ol' fretboard towards Barry's guitarist of choice, Vic Flick, absolutely! Lessons Sir George apparently learned so well, and so quickly, that he himself was chosen to produce Shirley Bassey's Goldfinger theme, then returned nearly a decade later to score Live and Let Die all upon his own.
"Then, to bring things almost fully up-to-date, I still can't help but hear John Barry's 'You Only Live Twice' whenever I turn the Beach Boys' 'That's Why God Made The Radio' on. Or so it seems..."
Ironically, in 1962, Beach Boy Brian Wilson wrote and recorded the instrumental “Pet Sounds,” submitted for the James Bond movie, Dr. No. In a 2007 interview with me, Brian commented on his soundtrack effort ...
“It got turned down, Harvey,” lamented Brian. “They turned it down! They turned the damn thing down. ‘We don’t have any interest in that song.’ I’m gonna put it on the Pet Sounds album. That’s why it went on Pet Sounds. The James Bond people turned it down. And when we play the ‘Pet Sounds’ instrumental on stage now, I turn around and face my band and take the piece in.”
“I have played a handful of James Bond themes in my radio career,” proudly admits SiriusXM deejay, Rodney Bingenheimer. “I love Nancy Sinatra’s ‘You Only Live Twice’ and Shirley Bassey’s ‘Goldfinger.’ In September, I programmed Lulu’s ‘The Man with the Golden Gun.’”
During 2021, I interviewed Nancy Sinatra about her recording of the Bond theme “You Only Live Twice.” She did the recording in London at CTS studios in May, 1967, with producer / composer John Barry. Leslie Bricusse penned the lyrics.
“Cubby Broccoli [the producer] had requested that I do the title song for the movie. I felt it was a huge stretch for me and I suggested they call Shirley Bassey back in (laughs) who had sung ‘Goldfinger.’ They wanted me to do it.
“So I went to London. We did the initial session with Leslie Bricusse in the booth and John Barry conducting the huge, pretty much symphonic orchestra. I definitely liked singing with the orchestra. And John wisely said to me after seeing me struggling, ‘Would you like me to record the track and we’ll do your vocals later?’ And I said, ‘Oh yes, please.’ And that is what we did. That was such a relief.
“Later, I found out what they did was they edited different parts of the recording, the overdub sessions, so they could actually have a complete take, because vocally I was just all over the place. I was right about not being the right person to sing that thing. But I’m not complaining. It did very well.
“Later, Barton [Lee Hazelwood] my producer then did a change to try and make a chart record out of it and he knew that the philharmonic sound was not gonna get it. So he brought in the Wrecking Crew and we re-recorded the song with a more rock ‘n’ roll guitar-based feel to it and it did make the charts.”
“When people actually went to theatres for same, from 1962 onward, James Bond films were the go-to movies for young dates,” suggests photographer and writer, Heather Harris.
“There always was enough sexy innuendo provocation for young hormones (even as young women shrugged off the ‘Oh, please!' tawdry moments between the "Oh, James!" nice endorphins,) and enough plot twists, global travelogues and interesting music for those not predisposed to seeking out action thrillers on their own. The films have constituted a perfect blend of universal all-inclusiveness from the United Kingdom and America, decades of gifts to the rest of the world.
“There now is a brilliant compilation of that last category, just the music. Even a cursory glance at the playlist shows even wider variety beyond just whomever were chart toppers of their respective eras. Artists that even us music snobs quite enjoy in the privacy of our homes, musicians like Louis Armstrong, Rita Coolidge, Garbage, Chris Cornell, Paul McCartney and Gladys Knight enliven the collection, for which the music brands the films as much as the characters. Upstart L.A. local success Billie Eilish represents the newest of the new. You don't just hold your breath for favorites like Nancy Sinatra's sublime ‘You Only Live Twice,’ it is all quite listenable. Now, if only the powers that be would assign a reggae theme song!”
“John Barry’s arrangement of the original famous James Bond theme was brilliantly augmented by Barry’s longtime guitarist of choice, the incomparable Vic Flick,” reflects Elliot Kendall, a film and music publicity and promotions executive. “
“So whenever you hear that riveting and immortal ‘62 James Bond guitar lick menacingly played on the lower strings (and picked close to the bridge), that’s Flick truly delivering in his element.
“I recall seeing Flick’s original guitar on display at The Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame Museum in Cleveland in 2005 — and being quite taken by the fact that it was a hollow-body electric (not a solid body, which we guitarists have come to expect the more aggressive, attack-style tone to originate from).
“The guitar that Flick used for that original Bond theme recording session was a Clifford Essex Paragon De Luxe (not exactly a Fender Strat or Tele, like we all may have expected.) It was originally an acoustic instrument, but Flick fitted it with a DeArmond pick-up, converting it to an electric.
“In 2008, Flick wrote an intimate and compelling autobiography Vic Flick Guitarman: From James Bond to The Beatles and Beyond, detailing his adventures as a member of the John Barry Seven — and also covering his extensive anecdotes as a first-call British recording musician. Tales of zooming up and down his native England in a packed van for his gigs with the John Barry Seven only add to his credibility — and provide us with the soul of a man who later would create that indelible sound for all Bond enthusiasts to revel in.
“Who wouldn’t want to pick up a guitar after hearing that stunning sound, welded to dramatic, angular horn stabs and cinematic Cold War spy adventures…? An adventure in music beckoned - and budding guitarists all heard the call of Flick’s magical riffs, loud and clear - shaken, stirred and inspired to say the least.”
“Perhaps my favorite James Bond theme song is ‘You Only Live Twice,’ recorded by Nancy Sinatra,” volunteers multi-instrumentalist / songwriter and record producer Marvin Etzioni, formerly of Lone Justice, now in Thee Holy Brothers with Willie Aron.
Etzioni has penned tunes covered by Peter Case, Judy Collins, Lucinda Williams, Lisa Loeb, and the Williams Brothers.
Still can’t get enough James Bond audio delights?
May I tout two additional ‘You Only Live Twice’ renditions, courtesy of record producer Etzioni.
Due out on October 22nd on Etzioni’s Regional Records distributed digitally via Six Degrees is a forthcoming instrumental album Earthless from the Satellites Four.
This studio outfit includes multi-instrumentalist Doug Wiselman, who has played with Lou Reed and Yoko Ono, and featured on “Sunday Morning” by Michael Stipe produced by Hal Wilner on the just issued tribute to Velvet Underground.
Drummer and percussionist Danny Frankel has backed Fiona Apple and Brian Eno, while guitarist / producer Casey Dolan has worked with Milo Binder and Three Day Wheely.
There’s also a cool groove audio vocal Etzioni-produced offering of “You Only Live Twice” from Grammy winning singer Grey Delisle on her upcoming album of covers, Borrowed.
Grey Delisle is the number one voice over actor in the US. She can be heard on Star Wars and The Simpsons. Grey overdubbed her vocal on the instrumental version of the Satellites Four.
We've had the pleasure of talking to Vic Flick numerous times over the years here in Forgotten Hits. (He even autographed some copies of his book to give away to FH Readers.)
He has some fascinating tales about doing session work during the era that we here in The States refer to as The British Invasion. (Of course, it was just "business as usual" for Vic back home in Jolly Ol' England!)
We've also done James Bond Tribute pieces before. While putting together today's piece, I found this one from 2013 ...
And this one from a few days earlier ...
In fact, we even ran our OWN Top Ten Bond Songs List back in 2013, eight years prior to Rolling Stone Magazine taking a crack at it now. (Our list was based on the actual chart performance of these songs, not personal favorites ... trust me, if THAT were the case, Duran Duran likely wouldn't have even made my Top Ten, much less topped the list! lol)
Vic tells a GREAT story about the recording session with Shirley Bassey for the "Goldfinger" record. When it came time to belt out those powerful notes at the end of the song, Shirley was having some difficulty putting her full-blown gusto into belting things out to the degree she demanded of herself ...
So she simply removed her bra, let it all hang out and then nailed it to the perfection that she knew she was capable of. Even 56 years later, it's still one of the most amazing performances ever committed to wax. (kk)